Veteran’s Day 2014: Jerry Romano’s end-of-life care testimonial

As the population is aging, there is a great need for quality patient-centered, family oriented care for all older adults and their families. Over the past decade, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been well recognized for the very high quality of care provided to seriously ill veterans and their families. In fact,  the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine as well as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization have recognized the pioneering efforts by the VA. The American Hospital Association awarded the Circle of Life Citation of Honor Award to the Veteran’s Health Administration in recognition of excellence in Palliative Care.

What is remarkable is the very high degree of patient and family satisfaction with palliative care as reported by seriously ill veterans and their families (through decedent family member surveys) after the passing of the patient. Even more remarkable is the way in which many Veterans have come forward to voluntarily share their personal stories about their illness experiences to educate other patients and families struggling with serious illnesses about the great benefits for early palliative care.

Jerry Romano, who is featured in the video above, was an Air Force veteran who had advanced heart disease and died a few months ago. Romano was a great proponent of shared decision making and partnered with his doctors to have proactive discussions about his values and preferences for care at the end of life. In the course of his illness, he elected to have an implantable defibrillator and a pacemaker which he benefited from for a few years. He subsequently decided to discontinue the defibrillator and in the last weeks of his life, also the pacemaker.

Romano felt strongly that it was important to educate patients about partnering with their doctors to make proactive care decisions and shared his story candidly through a video documentary so that others may benefit from his experiences.

On Veteran’s Day 2014, we thank veterans and their families for their sacrifice and  we dedicate this post in honor of Jerry Romano and other veterans like him who have selflessly served this nation.

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  • Thank you Dr. VJ this was a most wonderful Veterans Day gift. I have already shared it with many of my colleagues and fellow Veterans. Like Mr. Romano I am an Air Force Veteran and like you I am employed by the VA (Palliative Care Coordinator) at an East Coast VA Medical Center. When I came to the VA 5 plus years ago many of my fellows were questioning my decision. What I found was not my “father VA” but even more importantly it is not the VA I encountered when I was discharged in 1970. The VA I work for today is much more customer friend “Veteran Centric”. My role at the VA has brought together two lover. Care of Veterans and care of those facing the challenges life limiting illness. I am inspired to continue to do my best to create for the Veterans and their care systems the very best Palliative Care program possible. I am honored as a Veteran by this beautiful tribute to Mr. Romano’s willingness to full participate in his care. And as a provider of care at the VA proud of this wonderful tribute to those who care for those that borne the battle and their widows and children. Thanks VJ

    Charlie Antoni, ACHP-SW
    Palliative Care Coordinator
    Orlando VA Medical Center

  • Charlie Antoni

    Thank you Dr. VJ this was a most wonderful Veterans Day gift. I have already shared it with many of my colleagues and fellow Veterans. Like Mr. Romano I am an Air Force Veteran and like you I am employed by the VA (Palliative Care Coordinator) at an East Coast VA Medical Center. When I came to the VA 5 plus years ago many of my fellows were questioning my decision. What I found was not my “father VA” but even more importantly it is not the VA I encountered when I was discharged in 1970. The VA I work for today is much more customer friend “Veteran Centric”. My role at the VA has brought together two lover. Care of Veterans and care of those facing the challenges life limiting illness. I am inspired to continue to do my best to create for the Veterans and their care systems the very best Palliative Care program possible. I am honored as a Veteran by this beautiful tribute to Mr. Romano’s willingness to full participate in his care. And as a provider of care at the VA proud of this wonderful tribute to those who care for those that borne the battle and their widows and children. Thanks VJ

    Charlie Antoni, ACHP-SW

    Palliative Care Coordinator

    OVAMC

  • Katy Butler

    This is an absolutely beautiful and meaningful video. It beautifully illustrates the “shift in goals of care” from wanting to be “kept going” to wanting to have maximum joy, comfort and meaning in the time left. Of physicians sharing medical decisions with patients, listening, and not assuming that they’re on the same page with a patient before checking in. He was fortunate to have such excellent care at the VA from VJ Periyakoil.